This bill would direct the Secretary of Veterans Affairs (VA) to reform how the VA provides mental health care to veterans who claimed that their condition was caused by sexual assault during active duty.
In all cases where a veteran makes such a claim, the VA would be directed to:
Accept a diagnosis by a mental health professional along with the professional’s opinion that the mental health condition was caused by the assault during their time in the military. This would be taken as satisfactory evidence even if there’s no official record of the assault occurring.
Any issue of reasonable doubt would be resolved in favor of the veteran, though the service-connection aspect of the claim could be rebutted by clear and convincing evidence to the contrary.
Covered mental health conditions would include post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety, depression, or any other mental health diagnosis that the VA determines is related to military sexual trauma.
For each year between 2016 and 2020, the VA would be required to provide a report to Congress on claims for covered mental health conditions that were submitted.
This bill — the Ruth Moore Act — is named after a woman who joined the Navy and was raped twice by her supervisor. After being assaulted, she suffered from PTSD, depression, attempted suicide, and became homeless. She has also had to struggle with the VA for more than 23-years before she was finally able to collect disability benefits.